Sports

Janusch returns with new challenges

Barry Janusch poses in front of the gymnasium banners following the team’s practice Dec. 9. Janusch, Olympic College’s Athletic Director since 2000, left the mens basketball program in 2001 after leading the Rangers to a division title in 1995.  - Mike Baldwin/staff photo
Barry Janusch poses in front of the gymnasium banners following the team’s practice Dec. 9. Janusch, Olympic College’s Athletic Director since 2000, left the mens basketball program in 2001 after leading the Rangers to a division title in 1995.
— image credit: Mike Baldwin/staff photo

Barry Janusch couldn’t resist returning to basketball.

Janusch, Olympic College’s Athletic Director since 2000, is back as the school’s head mens basketball coach following a nine-year hiatus from the team. Janusch, who replaced former coach Billy Landram, said he spent more time with his family and improved his golf game during the time away, but he’s glad about a return to the hardwood.

“I was curious to see what life was like away from coaching,” he said. “I’d been thinking about getting back into it, and I’m more mature than before, and having a good time so far.”

The team opened the season with a 87-73 home loss to Pierce College. The game was Janusch’s first on the sidelines since leaving in 2001, and despite more than 20 years of coaching, he admitted he was nervous about opening night.

“I’ve been coaching a while, but I still had butterflies that night even after coming back,” Janusch said.

Janusch coached the Rangers from 1992 through 2001, compiling a 141-111 record and .559 winning percentage. He led the school to a division title in 1995, but his contributions go beyond basketball. Olympic College added six programs since Janusch took over athletics in 2000.

Now Janusch is working two jobs with the school, which brings new challenges for the 51-year-old coach handling the basketball team and athletic program as a whole.

“This is the busiest I’ve ever been,” he said. “But I’m definitely still enjoying it.”

One of the challenges for Janusch, and most community college coaches, is the constant turnover of players in two-year schools. Janusch said he’s ready to tackle those obstacles again by recruiting in Seattle and keeping in contact with other high school coaches. He said he’s lucky if he gets five or six returners in a given season, but the school typically has two or three. Despite the long hours, Janusch said he’s thrilled to coach different players each year.

“I like it that way,” he said. “I get bored doing the same thing every practice. I think it takes a special breed to coach at this level, and I’ve had some really good success here.

“I know what it is, so I don’t get frustrated.”

Former North Kitsap High School head boys basketball coach Jim Harney has known Janusch since he arrived at Olympic, and said his return to the program is good news for young Kitsap basketball players. Janusch said he’s sent 10 athletes to Division I, and about 15 to 20 to Division II schools, including Harney’s former standout player, Sam Luke. Luke played for Janusch before earning a spot on the University of San Diego mens basketball team in 1997. Harney said Janusch’s return to the Rangers means more opportunities for high school athletes vying for spots at the collegiate level.

“Any kid in this area should not overlook the college and the program Barry’s built,” Harney said.

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